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The biggest match in England's Premier League this weekend can be found at St James' Park when Newcastle United find themselves measuring their nascent title credentials against a fellow contender. Okay, Eddie Howe's side probably sit at the bottom of the list of potential challengers to Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool – their opponents this weekend – but this is the lot you assume when you finish in the Champions League places and follow that up with an outlay of 150 million quid – on Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes, Lewis Hall and Tino Livramento – to go with the £300-odd million that has been spent over the previous two transfer windows.

Newcastle are probably a little ahead of schedule. There is the sense that they surprised even themselves with their third-placed finish last season. A reality-check defeat at the hands of champions City last weekend extinguished some of the hype that accompanied the 5-1 demolition of Aston Villa on opening day. And, so, the visit of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool presents Newcastle with another chance to evaluate where they sit in the Premier League pecking order. Liverpool are clearly not the force of old and, with a revamped midfield, appear to be still adjusting to life without the security cordon that Jordan Henderson and Fabinho used to provide them with in the middle of the park.

The minimum requirement for Newcastle this season is a return to the Champions League at the end of the campaign – that is the expectation that attaches itself to those teams that qualify for Europe's biggest competition. Fan expectations rise, budgets go up (although this is much less of an issue in Newcastle's case since the Public Investment Fund takeover), and a target – larger than the one that was previously there due to the Saudi ownership links – appears ever more visible on your back.

There is some suggestion that just being part of the fun, following years of misery under the previous ownership, will be enough for the Toon Army. However, it doesn't always work that way – as Rangers supporters will testify to, after their long hiatus from the Champions League turned into a humiliation. 

The Herald:

No one is putting forward the argument that Newcastle will struggle in the Champions League but, similarly, there is a nagging feeling that they might not quite hit the same heights as last year in the league. With the increased workload that European football brings comes a growing reliance on squad depth and so how Howe deals with two games a week will be a recurring theme throughout the campaign.

Newcastle still aren't done spending, though. They remain in the market for a centre-back and/or a defensive midfielder. The names of Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen and Benfica's Antonio Silva are on Howe's list while Kalvin Phillips, the out-of-favour Man City holding midfielder is another who has been mentioned in dispatches. Liverpool with their plethora of attacking options will give Newcastle a significant test of how pressing the need to bring in further defensive reinforcements actually is.